Features
6 Jul 18

Guatemala, the End of Using Cars until the End?

The Guatemalan Union of Car Importers, who once rejected legislation around the age of imported cars, is now requesting itself a new set of rules. Times have changed.

Not that long ago, the Guatemalan Union of Car Importers rejected to limit the age of imported used cars. Today, in light of the current situation of the country’s fleet, the Union itself is requesting party to set up a set of rules, limiting the age of imported used cars. 

In contrast to its neighbours, Guatemala has no age restrictions on imported used cars. El Salvador, for example, is considering to reduce the allowed age from eight to six years, whereas Panama is looking for strategies to lower vehicle emissions and Costa Rica is about to implement new legislation. 

Growing Older

The Guatemalan car market tripled over the last fifteen years, with an important share of the growth caused by imported used cars. From the 3.5 million cars in 2018, only 1.3 million date from the year 2009 or younger, whereas more than 2 million are older than 2008, with the eldest cars even older than 1987.

Guatemala City in particular suffers a lot from the growing and aging fleet. Of the more than 1 million cars driving through the city on a daily basis, more than half is thought to be older than 1987.

Setting Limits

The Union’s proposal would limit the age of used imported cars to 10 years for cars, 15 years for trucks and SUVs, and 20 for commercial vehicles such as tractors, because of the high purchase price. However, the president of the Commission of Communication and Transport said that the theme is not on the table yet. 

Even though legislation is not on the political agenda, the age issue might be addressed from a different angle. As part of the strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation, the Ministry of Public Finances amongst others, is looking to take on polluting products in the country, such as cars, and especially old ones.

Authored by: Fien Van den steen